Appendicectomy in older patients with acute appendicitis is not an indication for routine colonoscopy
In the recent article by Mohamed et al. , the authors concluded that post-appendicectomy patients aged ≥ 55 years should be offered colonoscopy to exclude coexistent caecal pathology. Considering the small number of positive findings in the study, the results should be more cautiously interpreted, and few potential limitations warrant attention.
First, the overall caecal cancer incidence rate (0.7%) in the study is comparable with local rates reported in average-risk patients undergoing colonoscopy or CT colonography [2, 3]. This rate would not justify routine colonoscopy in post-appendicectomy patients, which is associated with increased financial burden and morbidity, and would rather confirm that the recommended screening interval of 5 years is safe. Indeed, unnecessary colonoscopy is among five low value interventions with the highest negative impact on health budgets in the UK . Performing a preoperative CT in older patients with suspected appendicitis to exclude clinically relevant cancer is a reliable and cost-effective alternative to colonoscopy , and is recommended in the commissioning guide endorsed by the RCSEng and the ASGBI .
Second, two of seven patients were diagnosed with caecal cancer 6 and 8 years after surgery, which are less likely to be relevant to the time of appendicectomy. Furthermore, in order for the incident cancer rate to be more accurate, it would be relevant to query the local cancer registry for additional cases reported during the study period as not all patients would have available follow-up investigations, and to provide data about the percentage of non-residents in the presented cohort.
In conclusion, until further evidence is available, a more selective approach in which only older patients with complicated appendicitis, mass lesion, or equivocal preoperative CT, and endoscopy-naive patients would undergo follow-up colonoscopy seems more appropriate.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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